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Consumer Official Warns Of Storm Chasers



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HARTFORD — Summer storms have started to hit the State of Connecticut, and storms often bring scammers who target families at their most vulnerable. Damage to homes can be costly to repair, and those repairs often need to happen quickly.

That said, the Department of Consumer Protection (DCP) is urging families to take a step back and ensure that they’re working with a legitimate contractor before paying money to the wrong person.

“Contractors, legitimate and illegitimate, often have an uptick in business after storms,” said Consumer Protection Commissioner Michelle H. Seagull.

“When families have hard decisions to make quickly and are under stress, it can be hard to tell the difference between a legitimate offer and someone who is trying to take your hard-earned money without performing any work,” the commissioner added. “We want to remind families to look out for the signs of a scam so they can spot them and avoid even larger problems than their initial home repairs.”

Avoid doing business with someone who:

*Requires that you pay in cash, by wire transfer, or in any form of untraceable payment;

*Refuses to offer you a contract in writing (contracts are required in the State of Connecticut);

*Offers you an incredibly low cost for work that needs to be completed, under the condition that you commit immediately;

*Knocks on your door or otherwise solicits business specifically from you (instead of you going to them);

*Doesn’t provide references; and

*Will not provide proof of their credentials.

Before you commit to a contractor, you should:

*Ensure that a contractor has the appropriate credentials for the work they’re performing by visiting elicense.ct.gov;

*Specifically, if someone is conducting tree removal work on your property, they require a Home Improvement Contractor registration, or an arborist license through the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP);

*Check references and specifically request references from those who have had work done similar to what you need done. (For example, if you need your windows replaced, get a reference from someone who has also had their windows replaced);

*Get quotes from multiple contractors;

*Make sure you have a written contract, read it in its entirety, and ask any questions you may have before signing; and

*Be prepared to pay in a traceable form like check or credit card.

Consumers with complaints about home improvement may file a complaint with DCP by e-mailing detailed information, including receipts, contracts, and any descriptions or documentation of conversations, to dcp.complaints@ct.gov.

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